Carla Blackmon searches for an administrative or customer service job at the Georgia Department of Labor office on Slappey Boulevard in Albany Thursday afternoon. New unemployment numbers show a drop for metro Albany and Southwest Georgia. (March 28, 2013)
ALBANY, Ga. — The Georgia Department of Labor said Thursday that the unemployment rate for metro Albany declined to 9.2 percent in February, down five-tenths of a percentage point from 9.7 percent in January.
The rate declined because of three factors — the number of jobs increased by 100, there were 506 fewer new layoffs, and the labor force, or the number of people employed plus those unemployed but actively seeking a job, decreased by 930, Labor Department officials say.
Meanwhile, the Department of Labor also announced that the Southwest Georgia region’s unemployment rate declined to 8.8 — a drop labor officials say is due to there being fewer new layoffs.
The rate in metro Albany was 9.9 percent in February 2012, while the regional rate was 9.5 percent in February a year ago.
“I would place more emphasis on job growth rather than the unemployment rate,” said Aaron Johnson, assistant professor of economics at Darton State College. “Over the last year, there has not been any job growth and we have fallen behind most other areas within Georgia. Even though the Albany unemployment rate fell from 9.9 percent to 9.2 percent over the last year, our labor force shrunk at the second highest rate with only Dalton seeing more people leave the labor force. When people are leaving the labor force, that suggests that the labor market might be showing signs of weakness.
“As for Southwest Georgia, the trend is similar, but slightly worse.”
For the purposes of the Labor Department’s analysis, the Albany area includes Baker, Dougherty, Lee, Terrell and Worth counties.
The number of first-time claims for unemployment insurance benefits in Southwest Georgia fell by 1,289 from January to February. The decreases came mostly in construction, manufacturing, trade, transportation and warehousing, administrative and support services, health care and social assistance and accommodations and food services.
The number of initial claims was down over-the-year by 343 from 1,748 in February 2012. Most of the over-the-year decline came in the same industries as the monthly decline, GDOL officials say.
The number of jobs in metro Albany increased to 60,800 from 60,700 in January. Most of the job growth came in wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, along with state government.
The number of jobs were unchanged over the year, labor officials said Thursday.
The number of first-time claims for unemployment insurance benefits in Albany, resulting from layoffs during the month, went from 1,297 in January to 791 the following month. The decreases came mostly in construction, manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade and administrative and support services.
The number of initial claims was down over-the-year from 796 in February 2012, mostly in the same industries as the monthly decline. The labor force in Albany declined from 75,128 to 74,198 over the month, which had totaled 75,017 in February 2012, officials said.
Of the 14 metro areas, Athens had the lowest rate at 6.1 percent while Dalton had the highest at 11 percent during the month of February. Of the 11 regional areas, the Georgia Mountains had the lowest rate at 7.5 percent while the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region had the highest at 11.2 percent.
Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for February was 8.6 percent, down from 8.7 percent in January.